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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

First Final Draft Finished....

    I  have just (this morning) finished the First Final Draft of my latest, Mourningtide.  That means I've filled in holes, the narrative flows, I've found most basic mistakes, and I'm satisfied with it as it stands at this moment.
    It also means that I'll be doing a beta read (and perhaps inflicting it on associates to do the same) and will be tweaking and deepening and possibly, coming up with another title.
    My earlier works were over ten years in the making.  That is to say, I finished them, copyrighted them, sent them around and then went into a dry spell.  During the time I tried to decide what to do with them I picked at them, re-edited them, deepened them...  They are  in good shape.

But I don't have ten years to spend on this one.  Actually, it came together more quickly than the others (thank you, plotting-by-the-seat-of-my-pants) and I think it will be a year's project, since it started November 1.

It will be available in Kindle, but I'm also thinking of Smashwords (and the others), and I'll have it available in paperback, too.

Whew!  I'll be missing these characters, but I am finding it easier to move on now.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


        ...We all get them.  Sometimes good, sometimes bad.  Always helpful, whether good or bad.
        Reviews are what you get when a reader is nice enough to give feedback and a rating on something he or she purchased and took the time to read.  They are difficult to formulate, since the reviewer is trying to distill his impressions and reactions into word that express clearly just what they are.
        A good review is very nice.  But I've found that the critical reviews are a lot more helpful, highlighting what might be 'off' to the reader, what might need to be changed, what might be perceived as a weakness.

The way to deal with a review is to look it over, think about it carefully, and draw conclusions.
        If it's a good review, is it a genuinely good one?  If someone gushes over something that you think doesn't deserve the gush, you can shrug, smile and move on.  (Why you would publish something that isn't perfect in your eyes is a little troublesome, I must say...) 
        Critical reviews are handled differently.  What is the reviewer saying?  Pacing is off for him or her?  Description?  Weakness in development?  Just didn't like?
        Once you understand what has been said and have thought things through, you have a few options:
1.  Conclude that the criticism is objectively valid and highlights something that needs to be addressed in future work.  (This can be hard to do properly: most people have to take a deep breath before they take criticism.) It is a good idea to check other reactions: if a number of critics point to the same issue, then it is necessary to address the problem.
2.  Conclude that the criticism is subjective and does not pertain to an actual weakness in the work.  Wishful thinking is very dangerous here.  No one writes a perfect story; you need to keep an open mind.
3.  Take the criticism under advisement and solicit feedback from others whose judgment you trust.
4.  Conclude that the reviewer would not or could not give any basis for the unfavorable review.  At this point, all you can do is shrug, move on, and dismiss the whole thing from your mind, even if you found the review insulting or hurtful. 
        One thing that an author absolutely must not do is to argue with the reviewer or whine about the review online.   Most authors, myself included, follow the steps above and move on. 

When you write a review, it is important to express clearly what it was that you liked or did not like, and make certain that those items actually have some bearing on the writing. 
        As an example, the fact that a printed book with the standard format of full-justified margins has some extra spaces between the words is not really an issue pertaining to the writing and probably should not be in the review. Specific pros and cons are appropriate: 'I just couldn't get into it' is valid, but it is a good idea to expand on why you could not 'get into it'.   'It just did not seem to be about anything' is another nebulous comment that needs clarification to be valid. If the story supposedly concerns organized crime, ghosts, and the death of the main character, it would seem that a lot should be going on. Why does the reader have a sense of nothing?  Was it a flaw in the writing?  Or simply a case of indigestion?
        If a book is described as being in one category - erotica, let us say - and you read it and decide that it fits more properly into the cozy mystery category, is that a basis to downgrade the story?  It may be poor erotica ("None of the characters so much as winked at the others!") but is it a poor Cozy Mystery?  And what if the book claims more than one category?  One of my books has  the following tags in an online listing: historical fiction, adventure, mystery, good vs evil, mystical, supernatural.  It fits all of them, being set in an extensively researched era, involving some mysticism, with supernatural overtones, with the hero fighting evil.  Should it be marked down for having one or another of these features?  It is something to think through when you are reviewing.
        Finally, honesty demands that the rating accurately reflect the reviewer's assessment of the work being reviewed. Giving a very poor verbal review a higher star rating (and telling the author privately that this is being done, as though it is some sort of favor), and finishing the review with the statement that the reader should not pay attention to the review, but give the work a try since they just might end up loving it, is simply sloppy work.
        For those who have reviewed my books honestly: thank you very much!   Bad or good, I promise I won't gush or attack.  I never do.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Interview on Jenna Johnson's blog today!

Writer and illustrator Jenna Johnson has honored me with an interview on her blog today.  You can find it HERE

The interview concerns

..And while you're there, do check out her work!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In The Works - Lord of the Two Lands

This is from a story with the tentative title Lord of the Two Lands.  It takes place two hundred years after Pharaoh's Son.  I had a strong idea of a character (years ago) and jotted down some things.  I had an idea, suddenly, for a scene, wrote it (or risk forgetting it) and the story has taken off.  Alas, it is on 'the back burner' because I must finish Mourningtide, which is going well.  But still...  It's delightful to know that the springs have not run dry.

This takes place after a battle.  The king has been captured by rebels, who are holding him in a courtyard.  Herihor, who is to all intents and purposes the de facto  ruler of southern Egypt, has just arrived at the end of the fighting.  He has  found Pharaoh where he is being held. 

Herihor stopped and stared. 

A torch lay in a shallow pottery bowl, spilling light across the wall's carved relief: Pharaoh lunged forward, his fist clenched on his foe's upraised arm, the swing of his war mace caught at the moment before it descended. Movement - emotion: Pharaoh triumphant. It was magnificent, vibrant, awe-inspiring, from the king's jutting jaw to the despairing faces of his foes. The dynamic thrust of the leg, driving into the ground, brought his eyes down in a diagonal to a figure at the carving's feet.
A man stood half-collapsed against the wall, his shoulder against it, his lowered head turned toward it, catching the lingering warmth of the stone in the fading day. As Herihor watched, the man pushed away, staggering a little, and looked up at the carving.

The thought came unbidden: A flame cast by a shadow.
He had made some slight noise. The man glanced over his shoulder and then turned to face him with raised head. His hands and arms were bound behind him, wrist and elbow. They had not been gentle with the ropes. He was pale with exhaustion, blood was caked in his hair and sweat made lighter streaks in his dusty face, but the black eyes that traveled scornfully from Herihor's feet to his face were as sharp as Herihor remembered. "You, too," he said.

The contempt in his voice made Herihor wince as he moved forward. "Sire-"

Pharaoh frowned. "Will you spare my troops?" he asked.
Herihor stared. Blood was trailing from the side of the man's mouth and he saw the dark smudge of a bruise at the side of his face.
Pharaoh tried to shake the hair from his eyes. "I am defeated: I admit it. How can I not? Do with me as it pleases you. My only request is this: those soldiers that fought for me, those cities and temples that assisted me, did so out of loyalty to their king. I beg you: do not fault them or punish them when you set up your--your dynasty. They will love you and yours all the more for that."
The gallant generosity of that speech made Herihor pause and look down. He drew his dagger after a moment and stepped forward.

Pharaoh watched the knife leave its sheath. He lifted his chin and faced Herihor more fully.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Graphics Work

I do graphics in a small way.  I've always enjoyed designing  things... the play of color.  Unfortunately, I have the enjoyment and a bit of a knack, but to actually invent something is a bit beyond me.  So I play with images and arrangements and color.

This image represents eight hours of work.  It was a challenge in view of the sheer amount of images involved in making it up and the difficulty inherent in putting them together in a harmonious whole, but I'm pleased.  (or...perhaps it's just that I'm tired).

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Interview With Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts

Laurie Jenkins has a book review blog that is beautifully set up and well run (click on the image go to to it):

She handles regular and paranormal books, and today (July 5, 2012) I was privileged to be a featured author with A Killing Among the Dead - classified as paranormal because it contains a ghost. 

Here is the link to her page:

Dealing with Laurie was a wonderful, fun experience; her blog is entertaining, engaging and interesting!

Thank you, Laurie for letting me be a part of it!